Tuesday, 30 October 2012

If You Bite It, Write It.

I've lost count over the years of the amount of times people have asked me 'whats the secret to your success?' (they are talking of course about my weight loss, because the extent of my success in any other aspect of my life is being able to get myself out of bed in the morning without a fire drill and a bucket of cold water thrown over my head).

I have several key pieces of advice for anyone who asks me this question - or anything weight loss related in general. First of all I usher them closer to me, bow my head towards them, and talk in hushed tones. Because its a secret (it really isn't, but I have a flair for the dramatic, what can I say?).

My first piece of advice is this - you have to do it for yourself. My previous half-arsed attempts to lose weight before joining Weight Watchers in 2010 were for all the wrong reasons, and predictably they didn't last. I often didn't even see the day out. You can tell yourself you'll lose weight for your kids, your partner, whatever reason you want to give, but until you're doing it for you its not going to stick. IMO, anyway.

My second piece of advice is not to deprive yourself. I can't think of a single day since I started Weight Watchers (and subsequently lost over 6st, lets keep that in mind) that I haven't eaten chocolate. And there is nothing wrong with that. I like chocolate, and if I want to eat chocolate every day then I will. Mostly its a Weight Watchers bar of some kind, occasionally I will splurge on a Galaxy Ripple or a Cadbury Picnic. Don't try to cut out the things you love and enjoy - whether it be chocolate, a glass of wine, crisps or a can of full-fat coke every now and again. Find the ProPoints/Calories/Syns/etc to enjoy a little of what you love, because not only will it stop you from going completely insane, falling off the wagon and emptying an entire vending machine into your gob when the cravings get too much, but you'll also come to enjoy it so much more when you know you're 'allowed' it.

My third, and arguably most important, piece of advice is this.

If you bite it, write it.

That is, tracking. Keeping a food diary or journal. I know for a fact that anyone who has ever set foot in a Weight Watchers meeting or ventured onto the website has had the importance of tracking extolled to them long and loud. I'm not sure how it works on other plans, but I'm pretty sure there is an almost universal agreement when it comes to weight loss, that keeping track of what you eat (and by that I mean keeping a physical record of what goes into your body, not just keeping track in your head) is key to success. Obviously it allows you to see just where you are with your food intake that day - do you have a few spare points or some extra calories for aforementioned Galaxy Ripple? Or will a Weight Watchers Rich Toffee bar have to cut the mustard? (Incidentally, everyone buy a box of Dark Rich Toffee bars at their next meeting. This is an order.) I find without tracking I tend to overestimate the points I have left and end up overeating just because I think I can. When its in black and white in front of you it changes your mindset somewhat. It holds you accountable. When its all in your head you can push it to the back, to some dark recess of your mind where you don't have to acknowledge that you used 20 points on biscuits. A 'I won't tell if you won't' situation with yourself. Having those 20 points written down in front of you not only allows you to keep track of your points but also your behaviour around food. It helps to acknowledge and address those issues.

Another huge benefit of tracking effectively is being able to check back to certain days or weeks whenever you want to for inspiration. I've been looking to old trackers a lot recently for meal ideas. When I was at university I cooked for myself every night, but since I've been home mum has done the majority of it. While her cooking isn't unhealthy as such, its not always particularly ProPoints friendly (think shepherds pie, stews, all those wholesome hearty family meals that are so delicious, and yet so hard to point properly). Sometimes its just easier to cook for myself, and having my old trackers has been really helpful in reminding me what of the sort of meals I used to make when it was just little old me that needed feeding - nothing particularly thrilling but after six months of not really cooking for myself I found it a real struggle to remember what I used to eat. (Uni seems so long ago already...woe.)

Tracking isn't just limited to the Journals from Weight Watchers meetings either - in fact I hate the Journals that they have at the moment because they seem to fall apart after about week 4 (they're supposed to last for 12 weeks...yeah, right) so I've invested it an adorable little Paperchase notebook to keep track of my points. This is also a lot more subtle than dragging out a tracker that has 'Weight Watchers' emblazoned on the front (not that I care, but I know others do.) I prefer to handwrite my tracker, but I know others (my friends Liz and Nikki, for example) swear by the online tracker on eSource - which is available on iPhone, iPad and Android, but still not BlackBerry....Sort it out, Weight Watchers! There are also Clickers available, for checking off points as you use them if you haven't got time to write it down (essential on nights out for the 45 minutes that I'm sober enough to remember how to use it) and if all else fails there's your phone. I've been known on many occasions to open a new note  on my phone and use it to write down what I've had to eat or drink, so that I can write it into my tracker later in the day. Lets face it, we all spend most of our time tapping away at our phones these days anyway - its not like taking two minutes to make a record of your 8th pint is going to make a difference!

Aside from all the keeping yourself accountable stuff my favourite - and I do mean my absolute favourite - thing about tracking, is seeing how far you've come. I still have my very first tracker book somewhere - harking back to the old school Discover Program - complete with arm, waist, hip and thigh measurements. I think of my old trackers in a similar way to how I think of this blog - in the same way that I look back at this post to see how excited I was about reaching the -3st milestone, I can look back at old trackers and try to remember what it felt like to have a waistline thats over a foot wider than it is now. Sometimes its difficult to visualise yourself as that person - or as the person at the goal weight - but having it down in front of you in black and white really helps keep things in perspective and reminds you how far you've come.

Whats your favourite way to track?

With love,
Lauren x

P.S Since I first drafted this post a few days ago I've not been tracking religiously, and I know feel bloated and disgusting and am estimating a gain of around 2lbs - just goes to show that it works, and that I need to practice what I preach!


  1. Great post! And your progress pics are fantastic :) I track by using an Iphone app called LoseIt. I like it because I will always have my phone close by, so no excuse not to enter in what I ate.

  2. Whenever I do use tracking (on the iPhone App), I feel miles better. Must go back to it.

  3. Totally agree! I only really started to lose weight properly when I started counting what I was eating, and it means I can allow for treats too! I use myfitnesspal which is a website and an app too.

  4. Couldn't agree more with all of this. I don't understand how people can even lose weight without tracking everything, in fact I assume they're either blessed or lying.


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